7.2 magnitude-A A +A
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
THAT was a big one, the earthquake that literally shook the entire Visayan group of islands. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake 5 kilometers east of Balilihan, near Tagbilaran, Bohol.
When the temblor struck, I thought I would be a goner. I felt extremely dizzy that I might collapse from a thunderclap head-ache.
It turned out that the shaking was not inside my head, but the world around me. After several minutes, I went back inside the house to check for any structural defect. And then checked the USGS and Earthquake and Earthquake Track websites.
In a matter of a few minutes, I realize the magnitude of the earthquake. The Bombo website reported a house partially damaged in Hinobaan, a landslide in Salvador Benedicto, and crack in several Sagaynon houses. And perhaps has even affected Baciwa’s capacity to deliver water to its consumers in Alijis?
Otherwise, Bacolod and the province, it seems as of this writing, were spared from the worst. The earthquake occurred around 8:12 a.m. and was felt in Cebu, Masbate, Iloilo, Samar, Negros Oriental and Occidental, Siquijor, and in Northern Mindanao.
Bohol and Cebu bore the brunt. As of this writing, 94 people died, historic churches greatly damaged. No wonder. Seismologists compared a 7.2-magnitude earthquake to the equivalent of 32 Hiroshima bombs.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council said at least 20 people were killed in the aftermath of the quake: 15 in Cebu, 4 in Bohol and one person in Siquijor.
But what if the magnitude 7.2 quake hit Metro-Manila instead of Bohol? Pacific Strategies and Assessments said in its report on Metro Manila’s quake vulnerability that while quakes were normal occurrences in the metropolis, the effects of a 7.2-magnitude tremor were likely to be made more terrifying by a lack of preparedness and failure to enforce zoning laws and building standards.
Roughly 34,000 people would be dead instantly and 24,000 dead or dying in the rubble, 110,000 injured and needing immediate treatment. Five hundred fires raging simultaneously.
Moreover, 117,000 homes would either collapse or suffer heavy damage, rendering 1.2 million people homeless. A fourth of public facilities; hospitals, schools, fire houses and police stations; would suffer damage. Damage to water reservoirs and purification plants would immediately cut 4,000 water supply points.
The PSA released its “Metro Manila Earthquake Vulnerability Assessment,” in August 2010 shortly after a massive earthquake killed thousands in Haiti. PSA is a leading Asia-Pacific business risk consultancy specializing in business intelligence, security assessments and due diligence.
The report pieced together data from a study prepared by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, and results of PSA’s own study on the impact of a massive earthquake on businesses and industries in Metro Manila.
Our vulnerabilities stem from an unreliable infrastructure system, poor building standards due to corruption in the construction and inspection process, informal settlements in hazardous areas and a lack of government resources and coordination are just some of the factors that plague the country’s disaster preparedness, said the PSA.
It doesn’t need too much imagination to agree to PSA’s apocalyptic scenarios could hold true for Metro-Bacolod as well. Where even our local architects and building contractors refused to install water sprinklers in buildings as required by law. How much more the enforcement of the country’s building code?
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 16, 2013.